Sharks utility Greg Bird has earned a headstart in the battle for the vacant Australian rugby league Test team five-eighth position with selection in the Prime Minister's XIII to play Papua New Guinea this month.

Bird has been picked to start at five-eighth ahead of Roosters pivot Braith Anasta, who has been named on the bench for the September 23 match to be played in Port Moresby.

Gold Coast halfback Scott Prince, also in the running the for the Test number six jersey with Darren Lockyer out injured, will partner BIRD in the halves at halfback while Dragons five-eighth Mark Gasnier has been named in the centres.

Roosters skipper Craig Fitzgibbon has been rewarded for leading his side's late-season charge with the captaincy for the match.

Prime Minister's XIII: Kurt Gidley (Knights), Steve Michaels (Broncos), Mark Gasnier (Dragons), Joel Monaghan (Roosters), Chris Lawrence (Tigers), Greg Bird (Sharks), Scott Prince (Titans), David Shillington (Roosters), Robbie Farah (Tigers), Luke Douglas (Sharks), Anthony Tupou (Roosters), Craig Fitzgibbon (c, Roosters), Paul Gallen (Sharks).

Interchange: Braith Anasta (Roosters), Nate Myles (Roosters), Steve Simpson (Knights), Sam Thaiday (Broncos).